Approaching Zero Hour For My Appalachian Trail Thru Hike
Traveling Through The Mind’s Fog
The best way for me to describe today is raw emotion and wonder. From telling the dogs and cat I’ll be home soon, to assuring my wife and Mom that I’ll be fine. It is so different than a long deployment in that I have chosen the location and am responsible for all facets. My pace and I will choose each other, thus determining the length of time I’ll be gone. Along with factoring unknowns. Thirty five years I have waited for tomorrow, and the time now seems to be a momentary flash. Did I forget anything? Do I have enough or too much? No sense in worrying now, stuff works itself out.
The Caring and Kindness of Strangers
On my only layover, Salt Lake City, I was at a shop to get a sandwich and coffee. Two pilots were there for the same reason and I asked them to go ahead of me as I was in the midst of my usual indecision. We chatted and trail magic was given before reaching the trail. I shared a bit of my story with these gentlemen. One showed me a bracelet that he wears for PTSD awareness to give voice to people like me. He took the bracelet off, handed it to me and helped me clasp it on my wrist, and thanked me for my service and sacrifice. I promised him that I would wear it up the trail and to Mt. Katahdin. In turn the other pilot bought my breakfast and thanked me in similar fashion. As fate would have it, these fine men were the pilots for my flight to Atlanta. I held back my tears, but barely. The gate crew were amazing to me. So to the gate crew, cabin crew, and flight crew of Delta Airlines Flight DL0793 from SLC to ATL I owe you a debt of gratitude. When I reach the final summit on the trail you be there with me in my heart.
Don’t Forget To Have Your Driver Take You To The Varsity
The simple fare is iconic in Georgia. The welcoming greeting of “What’ll you have”. The Souther author and humorist Lewis Grizzard mentioned this institution numerous times in his books. For me, two Slaw Dogs, a Chili Cheeseburger, Onion Rings, Sweet Potato Pie, and their signature orange drink were the light meal I needed before reaching Amicalola State The memory of the singular deliciousness will sustain me for a good while.
Final Thoughts For Tomorrow
I know what it took to get me here. Much of the last 12 years have been spent healing from two wars. From the times I needed a cane to walk because of some neurological damage from a rocket blast that I masked for 5 ½ years so the military wouldn’t medically retire me, to the months at a time when I would only leave the house for appointments, for the five to thirteen day stretches when I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t hold food down. All of these things bring me here today. Yes I’ve worked hard. I have done none of this alone, others have carried me in the worst times. To my Brothers and Sisters in Arms that I served with, especially in Iraq, Central Asia, and Afghanistan, my love for you is unwavering and eternal. To those whose caskets I have seen off the field and to their families, I hope one day to be worthy of their sacrifice.
For Those Who Travel With a Giving and Open Heart
I’ve been thinking for a while about things you already know
So many travels and trails yet I dream of long ago
I don’t want to ask too much and don’t want to be a bother
The memories of family and friends, the place of my mother and my father
Walk with me a little further in the story of my time
Another verse and chapter before my words run out of rhyme
And while the years both dragged and flew
Things that I now know and things that I once knew
Quietness keeps calling through commotion and the noise
So, while I have a few more steps, a smile, and some poise
It is a good time to ask that you think of me now and then
If you will do me one last favor, take me home again
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